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'Let's Thrive Baltimore' On A Mission To Help Youth Who Have Lost Family To Gun Violence

BALTIMORE (WJZ) - Baltimore's homicide numbers continue to outpace last year's homicides. Police say at least 127 people have been killed in the City so far this year. That is 6 more than the same time last year.

As the violence continues, people who know this tragedy all too well gathered Saturday to send a message of peace and healing.

Members of the group Let's Thrive Baltimore gathered in the Harlem Park neighborhood at a park that's been dedicated as a space of remembrance. Anyone who drives by the space in the 1400 block of W. Lafayette Avenue on Saturday saw flowing orange ribbons with a message to stop gun violence.

The space is also a healing garden for people who live on after their loved ones were killed. The artists are young people like Donniya Burgess.

"My older sister. She was my mother's first child and she died to gun violence," said Burgess.

At a young age, she became a champion of peace because of her personal tragedy.

"When my sister died that's when it really started to hit me because at first, I didn't know what any of that was all about. Like living, dying,

I was young, I was only 10 years old," said Burgess.

Saturday's gathering at "Memory Creation" Park in West Baltimore was part of the  "Wear Orange Campaign" that's happening nationwide.

Groups across America are collaborating to stop the violence. In our area, an organization called "Let's Thrive Baltimore" is on a mission to provide therapy for kids who've lost a family member to a gun.

"There were so many groups for the adults, for us who have lost their loved ones, but there was really nothing for the young people who have lost their loved ones to violence," said Lisa Molock, the executive director of Let's Thrive Baltimore.

Baltimore has at least 128 homicides so far this year, up from 121 at the same time in 2020.

Three of the latest victims were a 61-year-old, a 21-year-old, and a 46-year-old. All three of them were shot and killed in the last 24 hours.

Earlier this week, Federal, State and Local officials joined forces in an attempt to stop gun crimes in Baltimore.

They announced additional funding for an initiative called 'Project Exile". Officials say more resources will be available to target repeat offenders and people committing gun crimes and charge them in federal court.

"Through this initiative, we look to bring cases involving illegal firearms that have clear connections to violence and I believe this effort has been worthwhile," said Jonathan F. Lenzner, Acting United States Attorney for the District of Maryland. "This collaborative firearm prosecution effort is focused on prosecuting individuals who are responsible for driving the violence in Baltimore."

As the City tries to get a grip on the violence, here's a message from one of its youngest residents who was forced to deal with an untimely death.

"I would just like for everybody to change. Baltimore wouldn't be a bad city if we all will just act the same way and learn how to collaborate with others," said Burgess.

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